Lesson Four - Part 2
Composition; Style and Placement of Elements in the Frame
by Stephen J. Kristof
all rights reserved
Look For the Lines
Our eyes are always looking for guides and guideposts in any image and lines are a great way to help the eye along a path either toward your subject (the focal point) or simply to encourage movement rather than a static display.
Lines can be horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal, but to include them they should make sense from a visual perspective. LInes that are horizontal encourage a feeling of stability and permanence. Vertical lines can evoke feelings of power, grandeur and even majesty, depending on the subject, the angle and how they are used. Diagonal lines can add a great deal of interest and variety, and help the eye to travel along a path.
Diagonal lines can also be used to converge with either vertical or horizontal lines to create an intersection or a psychological nexus of sorts. You can use this to your advantage to place a focal point or important subject near or just beyond that nexus point of the diagonal and straight lines.
Be careful not to place any type of line in the center of the image or you will effectively cut the photo into two halves. This is not visually appealing.
Another thing to avoid in using lines is the idea of a plain horizontal line with no other outcropping or interplay. The plain horizontal line can create a static or lifeless image.
Which way do we read? If you are reading this sentence, you are obviously reading from left to right. We tend to normalize this consistent movement and integrate it into our concept of movement in general. Therefore, consider finding and angle or position that allows diagonal or intersecting movement to travel from left to right. It will look forward moving, rather than backward, to your viewer's eye and brain.
See how the curve defines eye movement from bottom toward top right
Curves are Delightful!
They say that great photographers, "see the world around them photographically". If that's so, they are probably always on the lookout for curves. Find curves in your landscape, architectural, action, macro and people photos and use them to enhance the dynamic quality of your images!
Find the different lines and curves - they add movement and visual intrigue.
Do You Feel the Rhythm?
Rhythm is created when multiple, repetitive lines or shapes create an effect in which the eye instinctively wants to 'dance' and move along the path of elements, just as it is moving to music.
Imagine that you are walking along a trail in a forest and you come to an opening in the trees. As you move into the bright new area you find about ten stones set into the ground, all about the same general shape and size. You instinctively want to walk on these stones, rather than the ground, as if they were placed there for you as stepping stones.
Rhythm in photography and, even, graphic design, is much the same, as our eye will respond similarly.
Look For Familiar Shapes
From birth, our brains seek to make sense of our visual world and a huge part of that process is by classifying things that are familiar and similar. One important part of classification is to look for common shapes. Our brains instinctively like shapes and feel comfortable with them.
If you look at an octagon, at some level you'll probably think about a stop sign. That's how our brains classify similar things. You can use this knowledge to make your photos more interesting. Look for common and recognizable shapes and include them in a sensible way in your frame. It's not to say that the viewer will stop and think about what they symbolize, but the image will be more compelling to them.
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